CHAPEL HILL - Patrice Rene has been in the UNC football program for about 20 months now and appeared in 11 games a year ago, starting five times.
But he’s still probably best known for a couple of pass interference calls in last season’s opening loss to Georgia. The right calls or not, Rene was still flagged and the penalties hurt the Tar Heels in their quest to pick up what would have been a huge victory.
Rene, a true freshman from Ottawa, Canada, by way of Alexandria, VA, was thrown into the fire leading to those difficult but valuable sequences. On Thursday, he reflected back to that experience.
“Everything is a learning experience at the end of the day,” Rene said about the mistakes that evening in Atlanta. “I know what to do, I know what not to do, I know when to do something, I know when not to do something. So there were a lot of valuable gems in that experience. That’s how it is, you grow and you learn.”
The lessons continued for Rene. Not just what transpired over the final 12 games, including the bowl, but the fortification of how that debut shaped him.
“What I learned was just game experience and I know what to expect now,” the 6-2, 205-pound cornerback said. “I’m very comfortable being out there, technique I worked a lot on in the offseason and during the rest of the season, as well. That game being my first game in that situation taught me a lot and I took a lot of that with me bringing it into this year.
“I’m excited, I know what to expect, to deal with certain situations. I think my mental game and my IQ of the game out there got a lot better as well.”
Rene, who was in on 16 tackles and had a pair of pass breakups and a pair of deflections a year ago, and the Tar Heels are competing for spots on the depth chart this month, in his case trying to impressive new secondary coach Terry Joseph. Rene is being pushed, but he maintains it’s all about the grind and competing.
You can hear more about what Rene had to say Thursday in the video interview posted above.